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Subject: Why blah? rss

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Jim Cote
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Although the response here is generally favorable, I am getting this blah vibe from various places about this game. It sounds pretty interesting to me. I've read the detailed reviews. I don't see any comparison to Ticket to Ride at all. I don't see a huge overlap with Through the Desert (enclosures is a stretch). And I also don't care if figuring out the passenger route is difficult for some. Is this where the blah is coming from?

My interest is due to the passenger mechanic. On your turn, you can see the places the passenger wants to get to, and you can use your actions to attempt to accommodate the passenger, or to score in other ways. So for me the question is: is the choice of accommodating the passenger almost always meaningful? Is it always a tough trade-off? Or do you often have only one valid option? How often are all the passenger destinations not worth your efforts to go after?

If you focus on the passenger the entire game, and another player basically ignores the passenger, will one of you usually win? In other words, how balanced are all the scoring systems?
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J C Lawrence
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There is precious little to no long term strategy in OtU. Focusing on one scoring element is a great way to lose. The game is not that well structured and is extremely tactical. The game is very heavily tactical. Every turn the decisions are as follows:

1) If I do nothing the passenger will move like so and give the following points to the different players

2) If I build track like this, that, or the other the passenger will move like so and will give Q, R, S relative points to the various players

3) If I build track like this, taking into account what locations have and have not already come up, then I may be able to affect my potential future income as follows...

Each turn a player will chose one of the three, or more likely a mix of all three. While the passenger movement is deterministic, player builds can affect the route it will take and which card locations it moves among. This intersection of patterns is deterministic and frequently the cause of significant downtime during the game as players work out all the potentialities both for the current turn and the possibile impacts on future builds.

I agree with the "meh" rating, having given it a 5 rating. Certainly not bad, but nothing to seek out either.

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Jeph Stahl
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After one play, I wouldn't say blah, but it is prone to 'group think' and down time to player optimization.

The game itself seems very solid, but playing with the right group is important.

It passenger movement analyzing is a more of a tactical play, that every player must do on their turn. The passenger must mover, and you should build to get him to move over your lines.

The bonus connection points are just a plus on top of that.

Ignoring the passenger turn by turn is a mistake (imho), but strategic planning of your track position is important in the long run.
 
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Jim Cote
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Thank you, both. That helps me put the game into the proper framework to make a future decision. Now if only the full rules were available...
 
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Marshall P.
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What JC said but I would add that it definintely did have a Through the Desert vibe for me. You control more than one color line (caravan) you can add to either color during your turn (four actions instead of two). You can gain points by surrounding territory or by reaching certain stations (oases and watering holes).

In fact if it had stuck with its TtD thing I might have like it better, see my comments on my geeklist:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...

Adding the passenger mechanic added the bleh for me. Additional downtime for a repetitive non-interesting calculation.
 
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J C Lawrence
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mdp4828 wrote:
Adding the passenger mechanic added the bleh for me. Additional downtime for a repetitive non-interesting calculation.


I think the main impact of adding the passenger was in adding a probability game to the slew. Not a bad mechanism per se, just one I find uninteresting.

The impact is that it becomes necessary to build prospective track on the basis of where the passenger may want to move in future. This judgement isn't easy and the game doesn't help. Every location occurs once in the cards and all but a few locations will be used in every game. The only random factor is the order in which they will appear. This results in an unwelcome memory game: Which locations have come up already, so where should I build my track so as to have best profit opportunity? It would help is if the game came with markers to mark the locations whose cards have come up already, but then that would significantly increase an already large AP potential.
 
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Steve K
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I think the passenger is an attempt to reward infrastructure / network building rather than simple short-term point scoring.

For example, building a long East-West line seems to cause your line to be used quite often by the passenger, irrespective of which specific stations get used. Such a "dominant" line also denies passenger-movement points to your opponents since once the passenger is on your line they can go across the board without changing lines.

I've seen some people who are totally obsessed with gaining a point from the passenger after placing their track, and I've seen some people who just can't wrap their heads around the passenger movement, but for me its an interesting way to reward infrastructure building.
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Anthony Simons
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clearclaw wrote:
I think the main impact of adding the passenger was in adding a probability game to the slew. Not a bad mechanism per se, just one I find uninteresting.


I think the whole purpose of the passenger was to force meaningful connections; without this element players would simply concentrate on connecting outer stations to each other and/or building loops. The result would be something resembling two separate networks - one in the middle and one skirting the edge of the city.

As the whole point of the underground is to get people from A to B, it makes sense to incude the passenger mechanism; as Steve rightly points out good infrastructure is hence rewarded.

I also think the game is less tactical than is professed; as soon as you sit down at the table you can see which stations the passenger is going to visit for the entire game (only four will be missed). As a result, probability plays a small part in it but astute building and forward planning will reap much greater rewards.
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Mik Svellov
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Most people I have presented the game to seem to complain about the luck involved in the random Passenger cards. Over the course of the game some players will gain a lot of points from them while others will find that it can be impossible or very expensive to get just a few points.
 
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Marshall P.
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fellonmyhead wrote:

I think the whole purpose of the passenger was to force meaningful connections; without this element players would simply concentrate on connecting outer stations to each other and/or building loops. The result would be something resembling two separate networks - one in the middle and one skirting the edge of the city.


Yes I understand, and the passenger does accomplish this job. In the geeklist I linked to above I suggested that another way to do it would be to have the destination cards list two stations that needed to be connected with the maximum number of line changes to make the connection. Once the stations are connected with the specified number of line changes or fewer the card is scored. Perhaps a fixed number of these cards are turned up in the beginning of the game.
 
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Michael Snedeker

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we loved OtU. The passenger element is exactly why this is a tactical versus grand strategy ala T2R. Both have their merits. Randomness? If you want NO luck play chess. Life (as in games)is filled with the unexpected. Hope for the best but always prepare for the worst. Underground made us feel like we were getting routes through London with passengers being the focus. And if I'm not mistaken, that's what the Underground does!

Mike Snedeker, pres.
Boardgamers of Reno
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Myke Madsen
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We just played this for the first time tonight. I think it's an excellent example of theme and game working hand in hand. The whole idea of minimizing walking and line transfers (even if you go a greater distance) feels exactly like the mass transit I've used in Paris or New York (haven't been to London yet). Additionally I think we all kind of enjoyed the puzzle-within-the-game of finding the optimal passenger route.

As for tactics v. strategy, I think Anthony and Steve both hit the nail on the head: there's a lot more strategy and planning here than just chasing the immediately available passenger points. In our game the two players who had built more solid backbones across the middle of the board had a significant points advantage.
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Chris Shaffer
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There will be two or three cards unused, not four.

As others have said, infrastructure is rewarded by the passenger. If you don't build good long routes, you might score points on your turn by playing to the passenger, but will likely not score points on other players' turns.

If you don't have good routes, you might not be able to score passenger points even on your own turn. Sometimes you simply can't place new track anywhere the passenger will use it.
 
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Jim Cote
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Since I started this thread--and for what it's worth--I have bought OtU and enjoy it quite a bit. It comes in a box the same size as Phoenix, but the board is HUGE and the quality is very good.
 
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Ben Penner
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TheCat wrote:
There will be two or three cards unused, not four.


There will be three or four unused stations, as the passenger stops moving when the last card has been turned up, after he has completed his moving for the turn. So if you are ever having only two cards unused, then you are either playing wrong or using a house rule.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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Ah, you're right, we misread it and thought the passenger was removed if you were unable to replenish the four cards. Thanks for pointing out the error.
 
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Tomello Visello
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RecklessJester wrote:
There will be three or four unused stations, as the passenger stops moving when the last card has been turned up, after he has completed his moving for the turn. So if you are ever having only two cards unused, then you are either playing wrong or using a house rule.
Cross reference:
The designer now recommends a variant that keeps the Passenger moving. See http://boardgamegeek.com/article/1800659#1800659, which includes a link to the game's web site.

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